Advice for UNISON Members - Junior Doctors Strike

The BMA are planning to escalate their industrial action this week, when they will be taking the following action:

• Tuesday & Wednesday, 26th & 27th April, 8am to 5pm.

• This is a full withdrawal of labour, so during these times there will be no emergency cover.

Why are junior doctors taking industrial action?
The BMA have been in negotiations with the Government over a new contract for junior doctors. However, the government has threatened to impose a new contract that the BMA does not believe is acceptable. In a turnout of 76.2%, junior doctors have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

Is UNISON supporting the action by junior doctors?
Yes. UNISON has made it clear that it supports the action taken by junior doctors.

What should I do if I am working on these dates and time?
Our advice, similar to that of the BMA, is to work as normal, however if at any point you believe patient safety may be at risk and planned care cannot go ahead, you must have urgent discussions with your clinical manager. You should not be coerced into carrying out unsafe procedures and should always stay within your clinical boundaries.

What if I am asked to take on additional responsibilities during the strike?
It is very important to remember at all times to act within your role. While you may feel pressure to take on extra duties, it is vital that during the industrial action you do not work beyond your role or capability. You should not undertake work that would be done by a striking worker. At all times you must not undertake any task that you have not been trained to do, or that you cannot complete safely. No one should pressurise you into anything you are not confident in undertaking. If you feel you are being pressurised to do this you should contact your clinical manager and your UNISON rep as soon as possible.

How might this affect my professional registration?
It is important that members should not undertake work, or be instructed to undertake work, outside their competency or professional code of conduct. You cannot be told by your manager, or any other person, that you are competent in a role or task that you have not undertaken before. Only you can use your professional judgement to decide if you are competent to undertake tasks, having considered your training, development, competencies, skill set and your duties and obligations of your HCPC or NMC code of conduct. Do not place your registration at risk.

What is the position on overtime?
Our advice is that our members should not undertake voluntary overtime if this is to cover the work of striking colleagues. The same applies to bank or agency work to cover the work of those involved in the industrial action. It is the employers responsibility to plan appropriate cover arrangements.

Should I cross the picket lines?
Picket lines have to be peaceful to comply with the law. You can support picketing workers by joining them before and after your working day and during unpaid breaks. In our experience they are always welcoming and friendly.

I am on a day off but still want to support the junior doctors, what can I do?
Details of picket lines should be available from the BMA. They will be able to tell you how you can be involved. If you have further questions, please visit

Can I join the junior doctors in industrial action?
Only those people who were included in the industrial action ballot are able to take industrial action. If you take action you then may face disciplinary action by your employer and not have legal protection. The doctors taking action do not want you to risk your job. There are legal options listed above to show solidarity.

UNISON Pennine Acute Health Branch


Date Online: 25/04/2016

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